Colocynth / Citrullus colocynthis / Bitter Apple

A fantastic herbal plant with numerous beneficial qualities is colocynth (Indravaruni, Bitter Apple). The scientific name for it is Citrullus colocynthis. Indravaruni is a member of the gourd family and a watermelon related. It is indigenous to both India and Africa. It is a robust, herbaceous vine that is extremely drought-resistant. This plant can be perennial or annual. Their stems are extremely crooked and uneven. The leaves are deep three to seven-lobed, deep five to ten cm long, and deeply sinused in an open form with a triangle shape and numerous clefts. The leaves' upper surface is a vibrant green, but their below surface is a bit paler.

The flowers are monoecious, 5-lobed, solitary, yellow, pedunculate, axillary, and axillary. Their fruits resemble pepo fruits and have hard rinds, a variety of seeds, and other characteristics common to the gourd family. They have elliptical cracks and a globular form between 4 and 10 cm in diameter. When mature, a fruit's tiny orange and green tint turns completely yellow. The fruit is currently quite bitter, with a hard rind and lightweight, easily breakable pulp. The smallest seeds are around 6 mm long, a variety of sizes, oval, compressed, and smooth. After they ripen, seeds change from dark brown to pale yellow. This plant climbs over herbs because to its long, slender, tough, and rough-like stems and large roots.

General Description

Indravaruni is the Ayurvedic word for bitter apple. This plant primarily regulates the kapha and pitta doshas. All plant parts play a part in a number of diseases and conditions. The fruits' chilly, bitter flavor makes them purgative, carminative, anthelmintic, and antipyretic. They also tend to treat a variety of conditions, including arthritis, bronchitis, tumors, urinary discharge, jaundice, and constipation. The plant's root is used to treat rheumatism, cough, ascites, jaundice, inflammation of the breast, enlargements of the abdomen, and children's asthma attacks. Fruit or root with or without nux-vomica, a herb kind that efficiently treats pimples.

Stable oils, colocynthin, resins, pectins, lignin, minerals, and gums are some of the biochemical elements found in plant pulp. The biological substances elaterin, albuminoids, phytosterol, and glycoside are the ones that are the active constituents. The plant colocynthin and colocynthenin are bitter-tasting compounds. Seeds have phytosterolin in them. Due to anti-tumor biochemicals such as cucurbitacin B and cucurbitacin E, this has anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties.


Kingdom - Plantae

Order - Cucurbitales

Family - Cucurbitaceae

Genus - Citrullus

Species - Citrullus colocynthis


This plant thrives in hotter, tropical climates. It is indigenous to Africa and is also grown in Asia, namely in Pakistan, India, and the southern islands. It can withstand temperatures ranging from 14.8 to 27.8, annually. It grows best in a pH range of 5.0 to 7.8. This plant thrives in sandy loam, sub-desert soils, and sandy seashores up to 1500 meters above sea level.

Mediterranean Europe, Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and North Africa are among the nations where it is found.

Other Names

Sanskrit name - Indravaruni

Hindi name - Indrayan

English name - Colocynth, desert gourd, vine of Sodom, Bitter apple.

Bengali name - Makhal, Rakhale Shasa

Gujarati name - Indrayan

Marathi name - Kadu -indravani

Telugu name - Kuturu budama, Cinna Papara, Paparabudam

Tamil name - Paedikari Attutummatti

Malayalam name - Paikummatti

Punjabi name - Ghurunba, kaudatumma

Arabic name - Hanthal, hanzal

Spanish name - Manzana amarga

Ayurvedic Properties


Hindi / Sanskrit


Rasa (Taste)



Guna (Quality)

Laghu, Ruksha, Teekshna

Light, Dry, Sharp

Virya (Potency)



Vipaka (Post-Digestive Taste)



Effects on Doshas

It is well known for managing Pitta and Kapha.

Classical Categorization

Charak Samhita

Sushruta Samhita


  • Moolini Dravya - Herb group from which the root is used.
  • Virechana Dravya - A group of herbs used for purgation
  • Panchakarma therapy - The primary component and component of panchakarma is this plant.
  • Shyamadi Gana
  • Adhobhagahara
  • Shyamadi Gana

Medicinal Uses

  • HYPOGLYCEMIC - Its root extract has a significant impact on lowering blood sugar levels. A number of the herb's active ingredients affect how insulin is metabolized, which has a significant beneficial effect on Type II diabetes.

  • CONSTIPATION - This herb's fruit extracts have potent laxative qualities because they aid in treating constipation by strengthening the intestinal muscles and causing spontaneous defecation.
  • ANTICANDIDAL AND ANTIBACTERIAL - Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and other Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria can be managed with the use of this plant's root extracts. All extracts refer to extracts from fruits, seeds, and leaves that show efficacy against every strain.

  • ANTIOXIDANT - This plant functions as a powerful antioxidant. This plant has the capacity to remove free radicals such as singlet oxygen, superoxide anions, and hydroxyl radicals.

  • ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AND ANALGESIC - The extracts of immature fruits and seeds have significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • HYPOLIPIDEMIC - In non-diabetic hyperlipidemic patients, Citrullus colocynthis seeds can reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

  • LARVICIDAL - The early fourth instar larvae of the Culex and Aedes mosquito demonstrate toxicity against this plant.

  • INHIBITORY ACTIVITY ON BREAST CANCER CELLS - It exhibits a significant growth-inhibitory effect on breast cancer cells.

  • PIMPLES - Juice from fruits and roots used topically can treat boils, acne, and pimples.

  • COLD AND COUGH - Cold and cough treatments are greatly aided by it.

Parts used

Parts used are Roots and fruits.

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